Justia Health Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
Amrhein v. eClinical Works, LLC
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court finding that Plaintiffs, patients whose healthcare providers used eClinicalWorks, LLC (ECW) software to record and store their medical records, lacked standing to bring this case, holding that, without further injury, Plaintiffs lacked standing to bring this case. Plaintiffs were the estates of two deceased patients whose medical records were kept and stored by healthcare providers using ECW. Plaintiffs alleged that ECW's system was riddled with bugs that showed healthcare providers false and incomplete data about patients' medical problems and treatments and that ECW hid the glitches from government regulators. Plaintiffs brought several state common-law claims and sought to represent a class of millions of other similarly-situated patients. The district court dismissed the case under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the arguments as presented sought redress based on a moot risk of misdiagnosis or mistreatment that no statute or common-law claim makes suable. Therefore, Plaintiffs lacked standing to bring this case. View "Amrhein v. eClinical Works, LLC" on Justia Law
McGuire v. Estate of Robert Cunningham
In this dispute over who was the first-to-file relator in a case brought under the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729 et seq., the First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court ruling that the first-to-file rule was jurisdictional, holding, for the first time in this circuit, that the first-to-file rule is not jurisdictional and that the Court had jurisdiction over Mark McGuire's crossclaim. The FCA's first-to-file rule prohibits relators other than the first to file from bringing a related action based on the facts underlying the pending action. In this case, the government successfully intervened in several qui tam suits against Millennium Health. Millennium settled with the government, setting aside fifteen percent of the settlement proceeds as a relator's share. McGuire brought a crossclaim for declaratory judgment that he was the first to file and was thus entitled to the fifteen-percent share. The district court dismissed the crossclaim for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, finding that the first-to-file rule was jurisdictional. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) the first-to-file rule is not jurisdictional, and therefore, the district court had subject-matter jurisdiction over McGuire's crossclaim; and (2) McGuire was the first-to-file relator and has stated a claim that he is entitled to the relator's share of the settlement. View "McGuire v. Estate of Robert Cunningham" on Justia Law
Smith v. Aroostook County
The First Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of a preliminary injunction compelling Defendants to provide Plaintiff with medication while she is incarcerated, holding that the district court properly found that a preliminary injunction was warranted under the circumstances of this case. Plaintiff, who was due to be incarcerated for forty days in the county jail, was informed that she was not to receive her twice daily dose of buprenorphine prescribed for an "opioid use disorder" while incarcerated. Plaintiff brought this suit seeking injunctive relief compelling Defendants to provide her medication while she was incarcerated. The district court found a sufficient likelihood of success combined with both a strong balance of harms and a public interest in favor of Plaintiff so as to warrant a preliminary injunction. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in its preliminary assessment of the issues that must be balanced in deciding a request for preliminary injunctive relief. View "Smith v. Aroostook County" on Justia Law
GGNSC Chestnut Hill LLC v. Schrader
In this case concerning arbitration agreements, nursing homes, and wrongful death claims under Massachusetts law, the First Circuit certified questions to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) under its Rule 1:03, holding that the dispute in this case turned on the characterization of wrongful death actions by the Commonwealth and presented an unresolved question of Massachusetts law whose answer was unclear. The personal representative of a deceased former nursing home resident brought a state wrongful death action against a set of organizations that oversaw the nursing home (collectively, nursing home). The nursing home sued to compel arbitration. The federal court compelled arbitration and declined to issue a stay of the state wrongful death action. On appeal, the personal representative argued that she was not bound by the decedent’s agreement to arbitrate with the nursing home because her wrongful death right of recovery was independent of the decedent’s wrongful death claim. In asserting that the arbitration agreement was binding, the nursing home argued that Massachusetts beneficiaries’ wrongful death claims are derivative of the decedent’s wrongful death claim. The First Circuit exercised its discretion in favor of certification, holding that Massachusetts law does not clearly decide the independent/derivative or other relevant questions about the status of wrongful death actions in relation to the decedent. View "GGNSC Chestnut Hill LLC v. Schrader" on Justia Law
Bradley v. Sugarbaker
The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment in favor of Defendant after this Court remanded the case, holding that any error in the district court’s evidentiary rulings was harmless and that the district court did not commit prejudicial error when it found that Plaintiffs waived their negligence claim. Plaintiffs Barbara and Michael Bradley filed a second amended complaint alleging medical negligence, battery, and the failure to obtain informed consent. The district court granted summary judgment on the battery claim. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict in Defendant’s favor. The First Circuit vacated the judgment and remanded for a new trial on account of an error in excluding the testimony of Plaintiffs’ proffered expert witness. After a second trial, the jury again returned a verdict in favor of Defendant. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) assuming, without deciding, that the district court erred in admitting an entry from Barbara’s diary and in admitting an excerpt from Barbara’s medical records from a different hospital, these errors were harmless; and (2) the district court did not commit prejudicial error in finding Plaintiffs to have waived their medical negligence claim. View "Bradley v. Sugarbaker" on Justia Law
Delgado-Caraballo v. Hospital Pavia Hato Rey, Inc.
The First Circuit vacated in part the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendants in this lawsuit alleging violations of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) and claiming medical malpractice. Plaintiffs sued Hospital Pavia Hato Rey, APS Healthcare of Puerto Rico (APS), and two doctors. In granting summary judgment, the district court held that the action could not in “equity and good conscience” proceed without two necessary parties but that the parties could not be feasibly joined under Fed. R. Civ. P. 19. The judge found that complete diversity of citizenship of each plaintiff from each defendant was not met on the federal-EMTALA claim, and because no diversity jurisdiction existed, the court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the local-law claims. The First Circuit vacated the summary judgment for Hospital Pavia on the EMTALA claim and dismissed the local law claims, holding (1) the trial judge Fed. R. Civ. P. 19 analysis could not be sustained; and (2) this Court’s vacating part of the judge’s summary judgment ruling on the federal EMTALA claim undercut the analysis behind his supplemental jurisdiction decision. View "Delgado-Caraballo v. Hospital Pavia Hato Rey, Inc." on Justia Law
Nargol v. DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc.
In this action brought by two individuals (Relators) under the False Claims Act (FCA) and various state analogues, the First Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s dismissal of the complaint. The district court concluded that Relators failed to plead false claims under either the FCA or the state-law versions of the FCA with the particularity required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b). The First Circuit held (1) the complaint was correctly dismissed to the extent it relied on the alleged falsity of statements made by the product manufacturer in securing approval from the FDA to market a hip-replacement device; but (2) the district court erred in dismissing the complaint to the extent to rested on allegations that the manufacturer sold latently defective versions of its FDA-approved product on unsuspecting doctors who sought government reimbursement for defective products, as Relators’ complaint was sufficient to survive a Rule 9(b) motion to dismiss. View "Nargol v. DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc." on Justia Law